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* Summer classes in Coloring, Painting and Mosaic are starting! Contact me here or Facebook or my website SueBetanzos.com to arrange a local class for a fun summer activity. Ages 9 to adult, beginner to advanced.







Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Evening is Silver Soft and Bright

When the sky begins to turn an indigo violet the tiny bats that live in my neighborhood appear for their areal ballet. flitting, twisting, diving as they catch insects in mid air. Impossible to make out more than dark flitting shapes I am fascinated by them. These tiny mammals have conquered flight, perfected location by sonar and live in large colonies numbering in the hundreds because there is safety in numbers. 
I found out that the little bats I watch every evening are Mexican free-tail bats. There are actually four large colonies of bats that can be found at four bridges in Tucson: East Broadway bridge over the Pantano Wash,  North Campbell Avenue bridge over the Rillito,  East Tanque Verde bridge over the Rillito and the Ina road bridge at the Santa Cruz river. It's quite a spectacle at sunset when hundreds of bats fly out from under these bridges.
Bats feed on insects or plant nectar in this area and are protected by the Arizona sate law.  Other bats that can be seen in Tucson: Pallid bat, Silver-haired bat, Cave Myotis,  California myotis, Yuma myotis, Western pipistrelle, Lesser long-nosed bat, and the Big Brown bat.

The endangered Lesser Long-nosed bat and the threatened Mexican Long-tongued bats are the focus and inspiration for this little Reverse Glass Painting. They are pollinators of many of our native plants and there many postcards featuring a Saguaro blossom (state flower) and a Lesser Long-nosed bat.
These nectar feeding bats migrate south for the winter in late summer and sometimes visit the hummingbird feeders when fewer than normal blooming agave are available.

Bat Night Magic  
Reina De La Noche

 Reverse Glass Painting is the process of painting where the painting is done with the foreground first and the background is completed last. Multiple layers of paint are used in my paintings to add depth of color and each color added can affect the color underneath, creating a jewel like quality that makes the glass artwork unique. Gold and silver is often used in the paintings to give a soft shimmer. The petals of the Reina De La Noche,  Queen Of The Night,  have a faint pearl gleam like the real flowers and the Sphinx Moths have gold highlights.
This painting celebrates the very magical few nights once a year where the Night Blooming Cereus outside my window bloom in white, vanilla scented wonder. Each flower blooms only on one night, once a year. Not all bloom on the same night and I have a small gathering of friends, wine and cheese by candlelight as we watch the flowers unfold.

Both of these Reverse Glass Painted artworks will be on display and available at the Tohono Chul Park Pollinators Exhibit May 31 - August 12.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Wildcat Wilber

 Another day of succesful glass cutting and I have to say Wilber the bobcat looks pretty good. The rest of his ear and neck will be completed today.  Finishing the lettering should take of couple of marathon days of cutting and fitting.

One of the many things I love about glass is the gleaming jewel toned depth that is possible with the infinite choice of colors and textures.
No two glass sheets are alike and choosing glass for a project is a really fun and personal part of the process of my glass mosaics.

Wilber's fur, with all of the shades and texture is all from ONE sheet of glass. In art, as in life, it's what you do with what you have that makes the difference.
As a mostly self taught artist, the discoveries made in the learning process have opened unexpected doors that I would not have otherwise found. These 'discoveries' (usually in the wee hours of the night) have enriched my work, added the depth that comes from that Aha! moment when that 'door' opens and I find myself in the Land Of Possibilities - exciting!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Camping Days

Dog Star Canyon


Every year my dad would take the family on annual  summer camping trips to national parks which gave us the opportunity to really experience beautiful, pristine  areas and wildlife.

I can still recall a slide show of memories -  surreal starry nights, panoramic sunsets, and, of course, our park bear experiences.  
Thanks to dad we visited the major parks in California, Yellowstone, and a few in the four corners area.
We got to experience the beauty of the wilderness, the ugliness of humanity (in Utah we were refused service due to our race, but my dad insisted they serve us - and eventually they did), and the generosity of strangers (when stranded with a flat on a lonely stretch of road a man in a truck stopped to help us).
Spring Dance

These pieces are part of a series of my 'camper day memories'.  The first, Dog Star Canyon is inspired by the southwest canyon area of Bryce and Zion national parks and the petroglyphs. In this little mosaic world I made my own petroglyph of man's long time companion - DOG. The abstract gold thread of vintage beads adds another dimension.

The dog is painted in reverse with antique gold for a soft glow.

Our family actually stood in areas where the sandstone was layered in vibrant shades of red, brown, yellow and cream. The green of trees and shrubs popped bright against the rocky backdrops. 
Happy, trickling creeks had my sister and I soaking our feet in the cool water. We would make little boats out of leaves and twigs and watch them bob for a few moments, then swiftly disappear.  Sometimes we spotted tiny fishes and tadpoles in the rock shadows. Laughing, sparkling water color memories.  Thank you Dad.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It's In The Eyes

Still working on this beautiful mosaic and I Love the way the cat has turned out - especially the eye (my favorite part!). It's the eyes that are the key to an animal or human artwork - that "look".

For the eyes I had the perfect one inch scrap of glass the exact shade I needed.
Every scrap of glass is saved for these "in case I need it" and eventually they get used. Same for the nose - scraps of the perfect shades of rose needed.
 Saving the letters for last since that is the least fun part for me.

Watching the piece come into focus and develop as I paint with glass is one of the most satisfying part of mosaics.

Challenging my abilities with new materials, sizes and shapes is exciting because like a story I am writing I know the beginning and the end - the middle "how" part is the discovery.

So in a sense they are picture stories written in glowing jewel colors and textures - each vibrantly different and unique by process as well as subject.